Electric Light Orchestra: “Roll Over Beethoven” (1973)

More Beatles than Berry and nowhere near Beethoven, it was a kindness that Ludwig was already deaf and dead.

Kronomyth 2.01: Stringberry short take.

Granted, this was more or less a novelty single, but the novelty of hearing classical and rock music together shouldn’t be discounted. Given the single’s international profile, it’s likely that Roll Over Beethoven opened a lot of ears and more than a few minds to the pleasant intricacies of progressive rock, even if the clever (relative to rock & roll) arrangement was cut down by half to a manageable four-and-a-half minutes. The shift in the middle of the song is abrupt, but you couldn’t reasonably expect radio stations to play an eight-minute song that wasn’t called “Freebird.”

The flip side in most of the world was Queen of the Hours, one of my favorite songs from Electric Light Orchestra‘s first album. Although “I am the Walrus” is its obvious reference point, there’s also more than a little of The Kinks in the sweet fiddle playing. Oddly, none of the single variations chose a B side from their second album, ELO II, although that may be because no one wanted to take the trouble of editing down another track.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry) (4:30)
B1. Queen of the Hours (Jeff Lynne) (3:21)

Original 7-inch single version (Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, Yugoslavia)
A1. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry)
B1. Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (Jeff Lynne)

Original 7-inch single version (France)
A1. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry)
B1. Whisper in the Night (Roy Wood)

Original 7-inch single version (Philippines)
A1. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry)
B1. First Movement (Jumping Biz) (Roy Wood)

Original 7-inch single version (Peru)
A1. Roll Over Beethoven (short version) (Chuck Berry)
B1. 10538 Overture (short version) (Jeff Lynne)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on January 27, 1973 in the UK (Harvest, 5063), Australia (Harvest, HAR-10081), Belgium (Harvest, 4C 006-05242), Brazil (Odeon, SHAR-5063), Denmark (EMI/Harvest, HAR 5063), Germany (Harvest, 1 C 006-05 242), Greece (Harvest, HARG 1513), Ireland (Harvest, HAR.5063), Italy (Harvest, 3C 006-05242), the Netherlands (Harvest, 5C 006-05242), New Zealand (Harvest, HAR.5063), South Africa (Harvest, HARJ 5063), Spain (Harvest, 1J 006-05.242) and Sweden (Harvest, HAR 5063), in April 1973* in the US and Canada (United Artists, UA-XW173-W), on April 20, 1973 in Japan (Odeon, EOR-10303) and in 1973 in Chile (Odeon, MSOD-8915), France (Harvest, 2C 006-05.271), Mexico (Capitol, 7312), Peru (EMI, 01.21.1018), the Philippines (Harvest, HAR-50-002), Portugal (Stateside, 8E 006-05 242) and Yugoslavia (Harvest, SHAR-88657) with regional picture sleeve . Reached #6 on the UK charts and #42 on the US charts. Also released as promotional 7-inch single in 1973 in the US (United Artists, UA-XW173-W) feat. A stereo and mono versions. (*First appeared in 4/7/73 issue of Billboard.)

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